How Corporations Benefit from UAE’ Free Zones – Apple Example


Apple Inc. is one of the most powerful technology companies today, despite that shares experienced a serous slum during the past six months. Its annual revenue amounts to hundreds of billions of dollars. The corporation has an impressive catalogue of products such as the iMac, iPhone and iPod, which enjoys worldwide popularity. Despite that, however, Apple is working towards preserving its capitals and saving on taxes by setting up bases in tax-free havens.

Abu Dhabi Office

A few weeks ago, we informed you that Apple Inc. has secretly opened an office in Abu Dhabi. Although there were rumours about a soft launch back in 2010, the company kept mum on the topic. The truth came out when Knight Frank published a research on the office in the emirate. The report disclosed that Apple has on office in Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 media zone. Moreover, the company was said to be a main occupier there. Right now Apple recruits actively on Linked for Abu Dhabi based positions.

At first, it was believed that location of the Apple’s office had to do with a mysterious project. The fact that the company stubbornly denied to give any comment on the finding further heated the already hot rumours.

Actual Situation

However, the real big picture might be very different, if we view it from another part of the world. The choice of office location speaks that Apple is not really working on something major in Abu Dhabi, but rather that the corporation has found a good way to cut its costs.

For those of you who don’t know, twofour54 media zone is actually a tax-free business zone which focuses on entertainment and media. It is known as Abu Dhabi’s very first free zone. As such, twofour54 offers many benefits for companies that rent there. In addition, to set up offices in Abu Dhabi’s free zones is still cheaper than in Dubai. In terms of long term potential, it might be also much more beneficial, given the city’s close proximity to the largest Gulf market – Saudi Arabia and the super strong purchasing power of Abu Dhabi’s fast growing population.

Free Zone Benefits

First of all, foreign companies who want to open offices on the territory of the United Arab Emirates cannot do it independently. According to the law, they need a local partner from the country, like a shareholder. In comparison, free zones in UAE allow foreign companies to obtain a 100% ownership. In addition, they will have an unlimited repatriation of capital and profits. And for billion dollars companies this is extremely favorable condition.

Also, foreign companies located in free zones can get visas and a business license faster than those that are out of the free zone.

Another great benefit which Apple enjoys from setting up its office Abu Dhabi is the specific business orientation of the free zone. In UAE, free zones are focusing on a particular business sphere. That means that the infrastructure, the legislation and the services are in conformity with Apple’s field of work. Its new location in the media free zone may suggest extensive development of Apple’s app store. As you can imagine that offers many advantages and inceptives to the US technology corporation and the regionally based app developers. The AED priced Apple app store still offers very poor selection, while cost of the apps is higher than in the US.

New Apple Job Offerings in the Region

As a result, Apple is seen to constantly expand and update its ME office. Back in March, the giant published an impressive list of job offerings based in Abu Dhabi. Two months later, the situation is not much different. Only the job positions are.

Currently, Apple is looking for five skillful local professionals that are willing to join its team. The first of them is Middle East Product Compliance Manager. The main task of this position is to manage the certification of all products in the company in the ME countries.

Apple Inc. is also looking for two professions that will deal with sales – a Telecom Channel Account Manager for the Middle East region and Premium Reseller AC Executive again for the same region.

The other two job offers are in the sphere of operations. Apple searches for Regional Logistics Manager who will be part of the transportation group within the logistics department of the corporation. The other position is for Regional Supplier Manager who will manage the Distribution Centre Partner relationship and performance.

The regional IT industry certainly would look much more interesting in the coming years.


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